Events Planner: French festivals

Art, music and wine events from Paris to Bordeaux



Events throughout the year, Bartholdi 2004

This year sees the centenary of the death of France's most celebrated architect, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty. Events are being held in his birthplace of Colmar in Alsace throughout the year, ranging from art exhibitions to cinematic events, street theatre and music. Guided tours of the Bartholdi Museum will also be given during June, and the schoolchildren of Colmar will be staging various theatre performances. The Bartholdi Museum is housed in the architect's former house and harbours treasured items such as original sketches and models, as well as some of his furniture and a whole floor dedicated to the Statue of Liberty. On 4 July, a 40-foot replica of the monument will be unveiled in the town centre. For details, call the museum on 00 33 3 89 41 90 60 or go to


24-27 June, "Snack" Festival

Don't expect to see exhibitors displaying packets of crisps or peanuts at the Festival du Casse-Croûte et des Goudots Gourmands in the Auvergne. A French "snack" might well be a chunk of baguette with ham, a crêpe, or a few slices of saucisson with cheese. Visitors will be tantalised by "casse-croûte non-stop" with some of the Auvergne's best and freshest produce on display, such as charcuterie, bread, pastries, cheese and wine, so you can snack to your heart's content. If you like what you've tasted then you will also have the opportunity to buy the produce - and, indeed, to see where it came from at an Auvergne farm, which is to be recreated at the festival. Each evening Celtic music will fill the air, so you can sit back and relax after gorging yourself on the local delicacies. Entry to the festival is free. For details, call 00 33 4 71 63 48 02 or go to


1-4 July, Bordeaux wine festival

Bordeaux is renowned for its distinctive wines. It makes sense, then, that there is a festival celebrating one of the region's most famous exports. Visitors can sample wine from all over the region in the Place des Quinconces, where they will find 16 different tasting areas. There will be an exhibition charting the region's wine-producing history, as well as wine and food pairing workshops, a "Bacchus Parade" and free evening concerts. A combined festival pass - the Découverte et Dégustation - is available for €20 (£14), although the latter can be purchased alone for €10 (£7) if you're just interested in the tastings. The combined passes provide access to the tasting pavillions, (where visitors can meet winegrowers and shippers) and 11 tasting vouchers. Visitors can also use the pass to visit two out of 11 wine-producing châteaux in the region. For details, call 00 33 5 56 00 66 00 or go to


3-27 July, Avignon Festival

The 14th-century walled city of Avignon stretches its boundaries during July, when about one million visitors pay a visit to France's equivalent of the Edinburgh International Festival. Events take place in the city's churches, cloisters, palaces, bars and cafés, with fringe activities (OFF Festival) being performed in any available open space. The programme principally focuses on theatre, with performances of plays such as Peer Gynt in the courtyard of the magnificent Popes' Palace. However, dance and music events are also scheduled, including operatic and choral performances and modern dance. The dates for the fringe OFF Festival (00 33 1 48 05 01 19; are 8-31 July. There will be hundreds of street theatre acts across the city, many moving from square to square, so be sure to wear flat shoes (especially since most of the streets are cobbled). Ticket prices for the main festival vary according to date and venue and range from €5 to €33 (£3.60 to £23.60). For details and to book, call 00 33 4 90 27 66 50, or go to


10 July-7 August, Noirlac Festival, Loire

The festival describes itself as a celebration of vocal art, although visitors will also be treated to classical concerts in the magnificent Noirlac Abbey. The Abbey itself is an old Cistercian building dating back to the 13th century, restored in the 1950s. Each year, a popular classical festival is held in its cloisters and gardens. Choirs and vocal groups will perform music such as Schubert's Fifth Symphony, Mendelssohn's setting of Psalm 42 and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. Other concerts include a night dedicated to Russian Orthodox music and a concert by the Namur Choir of Belgium. Evening picnics will accompany several of the concerts, and workshops are also scheduled to take place. Ticket prices vary according to concert. For details and to book, call 00 33 2 48 48 00 27 or go to


14 July-15 August, Paris Quartier d'Eté Festival and Paris-Plage

The summer is a good time to visit Paris, when many of its residents flock to the coast. Don't be put off by this exodus, because there is still plenty to see and do, including the Quartier d'Eté festival and Paris-Plage. While residents head for the other Paris-Plage (Le Touquet), the banks of the Seine are transformed into a city "beach" complete with sand, palm trees, deckchairs, concerts and the requisite games of boules. The event runs from 21 July to 20 August each year - just don't expect to get to swim in the Seine. The Quartier d'Eté festival programme includes events such as performances of dance, theatre, circus and martial arts, and traditionally a sizeable portion of the events are free, such as open air concerts and street theatre in the city's open spaces and parks. For a complete guide to dates, locations and prices, call 00 33 1 44 94 98 00, or go to

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